Policy Matters Blog

State Leaders and School Psychology Administrators: Vote Yes on NASP Regional Leadership Meeting Attendance and Involvement in Leadership Activities!!

With the annual NASP convention quickly approaching in February of 2019, state association leaders and/or school psychology administrators will begin receiving requests for NASP travel approvals.  Prior to the start of the convention, NASP sponsors the Regional Leadership Meeting (RLM) for the NASP state delegates, Board of Directors, and all state presidents (or their designees). State associations also have the option of sending up to three additional state leaders to also participate in these important activities for a small fee, which covers food costs for the extra attendees.  Valuable topics are presented which highlight the importance of the relationship between NASP and state associations, including advocacy, remedying workforce shortages, and strategies to improve governance/leadership efficiency. Additionally, numerous opportunities for networking, discussion, and problem-solving state association issues are available.

The Assistance to States Committee (ATS) also offers the Leadership Development Strand for state leaders on the first day of the convention (the day after RLM concludes.) The ATS Leadership Development strand offers 20 leadership training sessions addressing topics related to the operation and infrastructure issues within state associations.  Some of the topics to be covered in 2019 include conference planning, increasing membership services including the diversity of members and leaders, website development, communication and marketing, managing budgets and finances, and strategic planning.
Each of these key NASP endeavors offers a unique opportunity for state leaders to collaborate with others from other state associations and within NASP to enhance their own personal leadership growth and the strengthening of their state associations' leadership.

Zamecia (Zee) McCorvey and I each want to share our perspectives of why it is important to support state leaders to participate in these leadership opportunities.  Zee is in her 2nd year as a national leader and attended the leadership activities for the first time in Chicago this past February. This experience impacted Zee in a positive way as she was given the opportunity to connect with school psychologists from all over the United States and gain knowledge of how school psychologists serve students, families, and schools with the same intent, but in different ways.  I have been a state or national leader since 2006 and have attended many leadership meetings and activities. The perspective I will offer is that of an experienced leader and the importance of consistent and sustainable growth.

Misty Lay: My first regional leadership meeting (RLM) was in October of 2006.  I was president-elect of my state association and had very little knowledge about the governance of a school psychology association.  To be honest, I knew very little about my role or the procedures for doing the work of leading a state association. That RLM weekend was one of the best growth opportunities I was ever provided as a leader.  I learned from other state and national leaders about how to build a meeting agenda, how to improve member services, how to plan a conference, and the importance of advocating for school psychologists and our services.  The relationships I built with other state leaders, NASP leaders, and NASP staff created connections for me to reach out risk-free and learn from those with more experience. For the first time, the lens through which I viewed NASP was clearer; NASP and other state associations are a partner in the promotion of the profession and all school psychologists.    I attended my first ATS leadership meeting in New York City in 2007. At this time, ATS's role was to promote the critical partnership between state associations and NASP regarding the profession. I became a member of the ATS committee in 2012, as the committee was evolving into a committee which gave ongoing support to all state association leaders, not just the president and president-elect.

Since I became a NASP leader in 2012, NASP has changed the way of doing business with the regional leadership meetings, and ATS has evolved from an exclusive meeting for state presidents to the Leadership Development Strand-open to all NASP convention attendees. Even with 12 years as a state and national leader, the opportunities to learn from others are still unbelievable. Imagine being able to participate in breakout sessions with state associations of similar size to discuss things such as remedying workforce shortages or collaborating with state legislatures on policies for dyslexia or school safety.  What are the hot topics going on in your state right now? Have you asked yourself how a 501-C3 is different than a 501-C6? Do you regularly ask for a yearly audit? How do you complete the annual delegate report to NASP? What's the best platform for online communication and board meetings? Do you know about the resources and supports available from NASP just for state leaders? NASP Communities?  NASP Leadership tools? The breadth of questions that can be asked are endless and answers that can be given are priceless!

The cost of participation lies on two fronts: time away from my regular duties and the cost to participate.  Balance this with my leadership growth and the contribution to my state association and the district I serve and it is clear that the benefits outweigh the costs.  Would you rather have an ambitious, dedicated go-getter or a disinterested seat-filler? My continued growth as a state and national leader has been supported by supervisors and a state association who values my contribution to those students, teachers, districts, and professions for which I serve.

The decision to support participants may be based on financial costs or the time that will be spent away from the work site. Before you make that decision, we urge you to approve the requests, because you may be responsible for the rejuvenation of one's career, building the confidence to be a leader, or the decision to remain in the field of school psychology, which could be your contribution in addressing the job shortages in this field. If this reason is not enough, Zee would like to share her story of how her involvement in the associations at the state and national levels has been crucial in developing her leadership skills and giving her motivation to stay in the field of school psychology. Following her participation in these NASP leadership activities, Zee returned to her work site enlightened, motivated, and eager to continue the work she does.  

Zamencia McCorvey: When I was a graduate student in a school psychology program, I was excited and eager to enter the field because I had a deep desire to work with kids and make a difference in the lives of students and families. Resilience was the ingredient to me overcoming childhood challenges and academic difficulties. I vowed to work in a career where I am able to give back to those who experience similar issues as mine.  I remember attending my state association conferences and events on a regular basis as a graduate student. My involvement at this level kept me connected to the various topics and enabled me to collaborate with others working in the field that I most desired to become a part of. Well, my dream came true and I became a school psychologist working in urban communities in the city of Los Angeles where my desire to give back was much needed.  As I entered the field and over the years, my time was spent and dedicated to developing my talents and skills to become the best school psychologist I could be. Over time, I began less involved in my state association and only involved in training and personal development offered at the school district level. I started feeling drained, overworked, and quite confused as to why I entered the field of school psychology in the first place. I started thinking maybe it was time to leave the field and pursue something else.

At this point, I needed some direction and inspiration. I decided to reconnect with my state school psychology association community again. I began to involve myself at the level I did when I was a graduate student (i.e., attending conferences, networking, volunteering at events).  As an experienced school psychologist, my involvement was different because I then was able to engage on a deeper level. My interest in the field returned because I was connecting with the community of school psychologist that represent the field in a positive light. I was reminded that we are leaders and the value we provide to students, families, and school staff. I realized that association involvement is key to my vitality and longevity in this field. As such, I decided that my presence in the school psychology field would remain the same, but I promised to keep a strong connection with my state association and affiliate community to continue educating myself beyond my district and connecting and collaborating with like-minded school psychologists who are dedicated to evolving as leaders.  I was given a chance to serve in a leadership capacity within my state association and the state association affiliate. This experience leads to my interest in applying for a position on the NASP Assistance to States committee. This experience has helped me to expand and shift my perspective related to the overall value of the professional association community. I now understand the importance of the support and guidance that NASP makes available for each state leader.

Serving on the ATS committee has given me new skills in the area of leadership and has provided the opportunity for me to connect with committee members that have a heart for school psychology. More importantly, our committee empowers state associations by providing tools and resources to help them run at the best capacity. In 2017, I received the opportunity to attend the NASP conference for the first time and assist the ATS committee with the leadership development strand. This experience rejuvenated me and my understanding of the need for leadership and support even more. Now that you have read my story, I hope you have a strong interest in attending the NASP conference. And I also hope that your state association and employer will see the benefit and value in supporting your involvement too. Keep in mind this: your support (financially or travel conference travel approval) may be a contribution to one's professional growth, decision to remain in the field of school psychology, and development/maintenance of a leader.

Misty Lay is the current co-chair of the ATS committee, current NASP Treasurer, former NASP Southeast Delegate Representative, and former KY Delegate.  Contact information: misty4lay@gmail.com

Zamecia (Zee) McCorvey is a current ATS committee Representative for the Western Region. She also currently serves on the board of directors within the California Association of School Psychologists (CASP). Contact information: zeemccorvey@gmail.com